The Do’s and Don’ts on Your School Website’s Homepage

A school or district website is a great place for parents, students and community members to find information. No matter how much useful information you have on your website, if visitors can’t get beyond your homepage, you’ve got some work to do.

The homepage remains one of most important pieces of real estate on any website. Just look at your analytics for proof. It’s likely the most visited and exited page on your website. Your homepage can have a direct impact on enrollment, funding campaigns and the overall perception of your school. Take some cues from these do’s and don’ts to assess your school’s homepage.

Do: Design clear CTAs (calls to action).
The main purpose of a CTA is to prompt action. If your calls to action are not clear, your website visitors won’t know what you want them to do. Help them make decisions regarding what their next steps should be by making them obvious. Use simple phrases like “Learn More” or “Apply Here.”

Don’t: Use too many words.
Your visitors aren’t on your website to read a manuscript. Give them what they’re looking for as quickly as you can with as few words as possible.

Do: Use catchy headlines.
A boring headline means no attention to the material. If the content has made it to your website, it must be important to someone. Get creative with your headlines so you can catch your readers’ attention.

Don’t: Offer too many choices.
Simplicity is the key. Giving your visitors an abundance of options on your homepage will overwhelm them and comes across as unorganized. Use your website analytics to find out which pages are the most useful. Once you’ve narrowed it down, start directing your visitors to those pages.

Do: Talk about your school and what makes you unique.
Your website should illustrate everything that makes you different from the neighboring school. How is your mission different? How is the student experience unique?

Don’t: Make forms hard to find.
When something is buried under a half-dozen website pages or at the bottom of a very long, wordy page, no one will ever found it. Help your website visitors get to application forms and feedback questionnaires quickly without too much hassle.

Do: Get feedback from other faculty and parents.
The best way to know whether your homepage is getting the job done is to poll your audience. Ask parents and colleagues for their feedback, and take their input seriously.

Don’t: Choose not to be responsive.
A responsive design makes your website more accessible to visitors who are on the go using smartphones or tablets.